A few years ago, I started celebrating with a special practice to close the Winter Solstice season: Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Little Christmas in Irish, roughly pronounced null-ig nuh mahn), traditionally observed on the 12th Day of Christmas, January 6th, or on the closest weekend to that date. This celebration is just a few weeks away, so it’s a good time to start organizing your Nollaig na mBan gathering!
Join your family, friends and SiStars in celebrating YOUR HerStories on Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Little Christmas in Irish, roughly pronounced null-ig nuh mahn) on the traditional day of January 6th.
For those of you not familiar with this celebration, it is an old Celtic Christian tradition and is still celebrated in Ireland, the Isle of Man and in some parts of England and Scotland, and possibly in other countries.
Many start their 12 Days of Solstice (or Christmas) with celebrations on “Mother’s Night” (Solstice Eve or Christmas Eve). Women’s Little Christmas is celebrated on the the last day of Christmas, January 6th. I love the symmetry of honouring women on First Night and Twelfth Night!
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas —January 6th, which is also the Christian holiday of Epiphany — women of all ages would get together and celebrate, and the men would stay at home. It became a perfect time for women to celebrate together, to share stories, bond, and dream. It wasn’t exactly a Red Tent, but close to it! These days, the celebrations are most often at one’s local pub, and that’s fine by me!
This holiday is now being reclaimed (and secularized) as a celebration of women, our Divine Feminine and of our herstories, rather than a “day off” for women during the Christmas or Solstice season.
On Nollaig na mBan, let us celebrate the women we are, the women we know, the women who inspire us, the women of our blood (family) and bone (ancestors) and spirit (deities, icons, goddesses), and the women of our future (our daughters, nieces, descendants and those whom we may inspire).
My invitation to you
Create your Nollaig na mBan / Women’s Little Christmas gathering on the traditional date of January 6th, or on the 12th Night weekend, and feel free to call it whatever you want! Women’s Herstory Day? Divine Feminine Day? Create your own event, your own new tradition!
Honour the Divine Feminine in your life. Spend some time with family, friends, acquaintances. Give them a call, visit, have a laugh, cook a meal together, craft together, share a story, light a candle, celebrate being aligned with the Divine Feminine. Celebrate the part of you that is a woman / womxn.
Honour your Sheroes.
Honour your Heroines.
Honour the woman you are and the women you know.
For your Soul Work
You may find that the women you celebrate on Nollaig na mBan become part of the lore and inspiration for your Women’s Wheel of Life archetypes that many of us worked with in my course “13 Moon, 13 Goddesses” (now archived).
Be sure to journal your inspirations and perhaps even consider with which archetype they are aligned or embody (a brief overview can be found here), and their core strengths:
- the Innocence of the Maiden archetypes: the Daughter, Maiden and Blood Sister
- the Nurturing of the Mother archetypes: the Lover, Mother and Midwife
- the Power of the Matriarch archetypes: the Amazon, Matriarch and Priestess
- the Wisdom of the Crone archetypes: the Sorceress, Crone and Dark Mother
These archetypes are within us, are part of our DNA, and we can access each of them whenever we need their qualities or inspiration, regardless of age or stage of life.
If I think back to my inspiration as a child, I know how much I loved reading stories about strong and amazing women — heroines, adventurers, explorers, leaders, scientists, goddesses and more — even young adult literature featuring independent clever girls (Nancy Drew anyone?). So many archetypes there! Today, in real life, young women like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai have inspired so many of us.
Some of these tales were the stuff of myth and legend, while others were about real women. And for me, some of the most amazing stories were ones I heard at home… how the women who came before me lived their lives, and faced challenges that we can’t even imagine.
FYI, the herstory movement in Ireland is telling the lost stories of hundreds of Irish women from both history and today’s world, in performances, storytelling, illuminations and more. Check out the Herstory website for events and inspiration.
The Irish are known as the finest storytellers in the world but until now, we have only told half the story. The time has come to tell herstory.— Melanie Lynch, Founder of Herstory
I invite you to both journal and share HerStories that influenced YOU, changed YOU, inspired YOU. These may be stories from your own life, from your ancestors, from family lore, from books you’ve read, from women you don’t know but have influenced you. It can be as simple as just a few names of women who inspired you, a picture of someone who mentored or guided you, or as detailed as you wish.
If you don’t know much of your family history, this would be a great time to connect with other family members and ask them to share their memories of the past.
And if you are not connected to your birth family, take some time to meditate and journey with your Ancestors (this is always a good thing to do!!!!). You are connected to them through the DNA that provided the blueprint for YOU, the wonderful being that came into this world. You may find some wonderful inspiration on the journey.
We stand on the shoulders of all women who came before us.
Women of the future stand on OUR shoulders.
I really must figure these celebrations out for down under!